Phillip Phillips was clearly looking forward to getting on the road for his summer tour with Matt Nathanson and making some noise with his music when he called in for a late May phone interview.
During the past 18 months, most of attention Phillips has gotten was for a lawsuit he filed against 19 Entertainment, seeking to get out of his recording, management and merchandising deals with the company.
Phillips said he cannot comment on his lawsuit, which could take years to work its way through the California courts. But he said the legal action won’t delay release of his in-progress third album.
“I can’t really talk about it,” Phillips said when asked about the status of his lawsuit and how it could impact the release of his third album. “But everything is definitely moving forward. I’m making this new album and I’m excited for everyone to hear it, go on tour and play some of these new songs.”
Phillips lawsuit against 19 Entertainment was filed right around the time he started writing for the third album.
Phillips, like other “American Idol” finalists, signed deals covering management, publishing, recording and merchandising with 19 Entertainment (a company founded by former “Idol” judge Simon Cowell) in order to compete on the show.
The lawsuit seeks to void Phillips’ contracts with 19 Entertainment under the California Talent Agencies Act, which allows only licensed talent agents to make deals for clients. Phillips contends that 19 Entertainment is not licensed under the law.
Full speed ahead
While he waits for his lawsuit to move forward, Phillips is moving full speed ahead on his third album. But as he begins his summer tour, a good deal of work remains on the new album.
“We think we’ve kind of hit the halfway mark or a little further on a few songs,” Phillips said. “And there are other songs that need some more work. So there’s still a lot of work on the songs that needs to be done. But they’re coming along really, really great. It’s so fun just being able to see how these songs have grown, and even more, the more we play them, I brought my band in, a few of the guys in my band in, to play. It’s really brought these songs to life.”
Phillips said a couple of the new songs will be in the folk-pop vein that first gave him success following his win on “American Idol.” One of those songs, “Home,” topped three “Billboard” magazine charts (Adult Alternative Songs, Adult Contemporary and Adult Top 40) and went top 10 on three other charts (including the all-genre Hot 100 singles chart). The other folk-ish single, “Gone Gone Gone,” topped the Adult Alternative Songs and Adult Contemporary charts. The album, meanwhile, went platinum, with more than one million copies sold, in November 2013.
Even that first album, though, showed another side to Phillips’ music – a funky, jazz-tinged rock sounds in the vein of Dave Matthews. That sound was even ore pronounced on Phillips’ second album, “Behind The Light,” and will also be a major facet on the third album.
“There’s jazz. There’s a little funk in there,” Phillips said. “There’s also actually a little taste of some blues, not hardcore blues, just a little bit of almost kind of sexy blues in a way. There’s rock and there are other songs that are acoustic and kind of country.”
But before he finishes the third album, Phillips has shows to play, including a July 15 show at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort and Casino. He said he expect to vary his show from night to night on the tour with Nathanson.
“I think I might be playing a 75-90 minute set. That’s kind of what we usually play,” he said. “We play a different show every night for a different crowd. That’s kind of how I was brought up and a lot of my favorite bands or artists (did that). A lot of bands or artists play kind of the same show every night in this generation, I guess, not every one, but a lot of them. To me, keeping it different keeps it special for that audience and crowd. So always there could be a bunch of surprises. There might be some covers or I might end up playing some news songs that will be on the new record. Me and Nathanson might end up doing a song. You never know.”